Today as I walked home with Ava in the gorgeous sunshine, I approached a man blocking my path. The closer we got I realised the path wasn’t wide enough for him and the pram- one of us needed to move.
It was that awquard moment where the closer I approached the more I realised HE wasn’t moving anywhere!
In fact he walked towards me.
At first I thought- I’m heavily pregnant here, pushing a pram, dripping with sweat from a walk in the blistering heat and you choose to walk blatantly in front of me and refuse to move out of the way?
… I was a little cranky as you can tell.
But I soon realised he was walking towards me to ask a question.
‘I’m trying to get to Preston, do you know what bus I take? I’m not from around here.’
Embarrassment set in and if it hadn’t have been so hot he’d have seen me blush straight away. Thank goodness the sun burned cheeks disguised any blushing to be had!
Now you’re asking me! I thought.
I don’t even know road names and I’ve lived in Blackpool my whole life, never mind buses that go to Preston.
I tried to help him read the timetable and help as much as I could, but I found myself apologising every two seconds
‘I don’t get buses very often, I’m so sorry’ I explained.
I was so embarrassed. My home town, a stranger visiting and I couldn’t help him on his way.
It became apparent, as it has before in those moments when a car pulls along side you and asks where such a street is- again to which my response is always ‘I don’t know,’ that I didn’t know my area at all.
A total stranger trying to navigate his way around, asking a local for help, for direction and I couldn’t even give him that.
And so it got me thinking.
Do we know our area? I don’t just mean geographically, but do we know our area of faith? Do we know the area of our walk with God?
When we meet a non Christian, or even a new person who’s come to faith, have we grown and learned about what it means to follow Christ and are continuing to, or are we still as the bible says ‘ drinking milk’ still needing to be taught?
“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!”
Hebrews 5:12 NIV
Has being so spiritually immature and uninformed caused you to avoid potential conversations ultimately leading to people’s salvation? All because you feel ill equipped to answer those difficult questions?
I know I have.
I would have hated for that guy to have missed his bus and ultimately his destination today. I don’t know what the ramifications of him missing that bus he so desperately needed to Preston would have been, but imagine if we were talking about his faith here. Imagine if he missed that bus to salvation, because I was ill equipped or unprepared to answer his questions and point him in the right direction.
Imagine if he needed real direction, to hear the word of God? Imagine if he needed to hear words of hope, forgiveness and grace? Yet my lack of knowledge, lack of confidence even, and lack of knowing about my God would have meant he missed his destiny in that moment. Not for good I’m sure, but an opportunity might have been missed.
I know we can’t be held totally responsible for someone’s salvation or not. But I believe that we can have an instrumental part to play, therefore we need to be ready to have those conversations with anyone at anytime.
To be ready when God allows our paths to collide with another’s who doesn’t yet know him. To be obedient in going over to that person, or having the confidence to confront and answer the awquard questions rather than avoid or worse, hide your faith altogether, denying you even know God.
Upon confrontation about my faith, It’s something I was so afraid to do in school, college and even my early days of work, to admit and be proud of putting someone straight about my beliefs. Having a loving yet honest conversation with them about what God meant to me and what that could mean for them.
Instead I’d run in the opposite direction, dodge the question altogether or point- blank deny, all for an easy way out and to avoid any embarrassment or risk of losing friends- even the possibility of being ridiculed and bullied for my beliefs.
It also got me thinking though about the big move we’re having to Barrow-In-Furness.
How I’ve lived in Blackpool my whole life and never really learned much about our culture, statistics, the in depth need and poverty right beneath our noses.
And actually how important this is.
I felt convicted and challenged as we step out into this new venture and destination, to get to know my area.
Not just buses and trains etc, though that would be helpful! But to really get to know the people, the needs and statistics. To not only know them, but be instrumental in being part of the change. A positive change. Knowing what is needed. Where the gaps are. Meeting people and where they’re at.
How much more effective could we be if we really took the time to get to know our area, our community, even our neighbours? The nitty gritty. How much of a difference could me make if we knew all about our area and it’s people? If we really listened and, wait for it…ACTED! If we set actions into motion and fulfilled promises.
If we remained on the ball, always re- evaluating and up for change?
So my question to you is this?
Do you know your area?
Your walk with God? Could you answer someone who is inquistive, wanting to know more? Could you lead them to their destination of salvation just by being knowledgable of the bible and God?
Maybe you need to take time and really meditate on how knowing God has changed your life, what you’re thankful for and what you want tell people about? That’s your testimony right there!
And do you know your bible? We’re always learning and I am by no means an exception of this, but do you diligently make time to read His word? Do you study as well as read? Do you open the word to be fed, to just get to know Him more, to develop that personal relationship between you and Him, have scripture revealed to you- not only for you but for other people? Or does it go in one ear and out the other? Do your eyes skim over a verse, but like a hurried meal, you’re not really chewing the food, therefore gaining any nutrition?
Or do you just not read it at all? Does your bible sit there collecting dust?
And do you know your area geographically? Do you know the need, the people, the good and the bad parts? Getting to know your area may reignite a spark, a passion to want to get involved and not just make changes but be the change.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.””
John 13:34-35 NIV
““You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its taste, it cannot be made salty again. Salt is useless if it loses its salty taste. It will be thrown out where people will just walk on it.”
Matthew 5:13 ERV
““I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
John 15:7 NIV